As parents feel the stress of juggling working from home and home schooling their children during the pandemic, grandparents are pitching in to help.
Los Angeles television editor Jason Smith has two daughters, 8 and 4 years old.
He lives close to his parents who used to help pick up his oldest daughter from school every day, but the pandemic stopped normal life when schools closed. His parents are unable to leave their home under the mandate to stay home. Like many parents, Smith and his wife have been trying to juggle work and children. He has been feeling the pressure of working from home and trying to teach his children.
“I am running homeschool like a lot of people who don't have any experience in this whatsoever. My wife is a teacher, but she's busy all day, and so I am teaching the kids,” he said.
While Smith’s wife teaches her students online, he has been coming up with topics to teach his two daughters and trying to keep them both learning and entertained.
Sensing their stress, Jason Smith’s father, David Smith, had been thinking of a way to help his son and daughter-in-law, seeing they were getting exhausted “because they’re both working and teaching at the same time.”
The solution was grandparent school. Being a retired university professor who had taught marketing, David Smith kicked into work mode. He spent more than six hours preparing a lesson plan to teach history. The topic was the fight at the Old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts, on what is considered to be the first day of the American Revolution.
As an experienced model builder, his inspiration for the topic is a diorama he created years ago, with miniature British soldiers on one side of a model bridge in Concord and colonials on the other side of the bridge. He wrote notes, prepared a PowerPoint presentation and included a map. Using video conferencing, he was able to share his knowledge of American history with his granddaughters.
“I like to end up with something real, like the diorama, where I can actually point to things that I think may or what may have looked like,” David Smith said.
He tried to describe it in a way that is fun and relevant to his granddaughters, using pop culture movie language the children know.
“‘This happened far, far away in a long time ago,’ something they were familiar with because the girls have watched (the movie) ‘Star Wars,’ at least the first or second (‘Star Wars’). So they know that concept. We had the evil empire and the rebels,” he said.
During the lesson, David Smith said what surprised him was that both the 4- and 8-year-old were engaged, with a lot of comments and questions, especially when the girls noticed the silver points at the tip of the British soldiers’ guns.
“They thought the bayonets were fascinating, and as a matter of fact, they both want a bayonet now,” he said.
David Smith said it was fun teaching his granddaughters, and he is already preparing for his next 20-minute lesson. The topic will be on riverboats. Included in his new lesson plan are two model boats, one he made a while ago and another boat he made over the course of 20 days while stuck at home during the pandemic.